1) A brief overview of eCommerce Shipping Methods
eCommerce shipping and eCommerce shipping methods are inextricably related to each other. Just think of this question- how do you deliver products to your customers without knowing the rates and delivery options available. Quite impossible, right?
Every eCommerce store has to think carefully through the various shipping methods and rates available before incorporating them into their checkout page. After all, your shipping cost and delivery time depend on what shipping methods you choose and the rates you apply. In other words, they determine how much you satisfy your customers' delivery expectations.
2) Why should you pay critical attention to eCommerce Shipping Methods?
Customer expectations are exploding year after year. The pandemic has reshaped the ways customers depend on online shopping, making it critical to analyse and select the proper eCommerce shipping methods for any eCommerce store. The rise of same-day deliveries and even hourly shipping services both testify to the growing popularity of faster shipping, even at the cost of extra fees.
3) 8 Most Popular eCommerce Shipping Methods
Now that we know the importance of having eCommerce shipping methods, let’s take a look at the eight most popular options available in the shipping industry today (irrespective of regular shipping):
3.1) Free Shipping
Free shipping is exactly what it sounds like- free of shipping cost. But, this is only for customers. Though it is the most popular shipping method in demand today, free shipping presents a dilemma for eCommerce brands. You would want to satisfy customers but not at the cost of your profits.
Still, free shipping is a lucrative option, and here is why you should consider offering it:
- At least two-thirds of customers expect to see free shipping during checkout; therefore, you would be appeasing their expectations.
- Studies show that customers are willing to add more orders to qualify for free shipping if there is a threshold on the order value.
- It is a good marketing strategy that propels new customers to try your products at least once while retaining old customers' loyalty.
- It has been observed that free shipping entices customers to follow through with their purchases, reducing cart abandonment rates.
3.2) Freight Shipping
It refers to transporting cargo (goods and commodities) by land, air or sea. Usually, it involves large volumes of shipments carried by railways, ships, trucks, and planes.
Freight shipping is the most cost-effective eCommerce shipping method for delivering goods on time. Another advantage in freight shipping is refrigerated shipping, involving vehicles equipped to control temperatures for sensitive goods like seafood and dairy.
There are three models of freight shipping:
- Less Than Truckload: For shipments weighing between 150 and 1500 pounds, that does not require the capacity of a full truckload trailer.
- Full Truckload: For bulk shipments weighing more than 1500 pounds, a full truckload trailer or semi-trailer entirely. Intermodal: For shipping using more than two modes of transportation.
- Partial Truckload: For shipments weighing more than 5000 pounds. The cost of transport is typically split amongst shippers.
3.3) Same-Day Delivery
As the name suggests, same-day delivery ensures that customers get their orders on the same day they purchase them. For this ambitious eCommerce shipping method, local inventory is the key. eCommerce stores usually pair up with fulfilment centres or warehouses near the customers.
Same-day delivery is transforming online retail as it combines the experience of shopping online with pick-up from a brick-and-mortar store. It also allows a stationery store to set up an eCommerce store to channel the same-day delivery experience.
Shipping companies schedule instant delivery waves to capture this demand, and larger retailers manage their fleet.
3.4) 2-Day Shipping
The most demanded eCommerce shipping method is the 2-Day shipping. Customers usually wait for two days to receive their order, and it can either be calculated as two business days or two days after an order is placed.
2-Day deliveries usually operate with ground and air transport. While ground shipping is cheaper, it is not always feasible. Delivery distance and shipping zones determine to what extent ground shipping can be offered for fast delivery, and it usually covers shorter distances closer to the fulfilment centres. On the other hand, air shipping is best suited for delivering products bought overseas and for traversing large distances.
Two-day shipping is a practical solution for reducing cart abandonment, increasing conversion rates, and raising customer satisfaction.
3.5) Overnight Shipping
Overnight shipping is a useful shipping method to include in your eCommerce store. Unlike same-day delivery, overnight shipping specifies that orders reach customers on the next business day.
Most customers who choose this option are aware and willing to pay an extra fee for this service. So, you can satisfy your customers while recouping the charge for overnight shipping.
Typically there are two forms of overnight shipping: one for delivering critically essential goods like medicines and the other for air freight. Also, depending on the carriers, overnight shipping is done in three-time frames: early morning, mid-morning, and afternoon.
3.6) Expedited Shipping
You can think of expedited shipping as an umbrella term categorising faster shipping methods like two-day, same-day and overnight shipping. Therefore any eCommerce shipping method faster than the regular shipping speed, estimated between 3 and 8 business days, is expedited shipping.
3.7) Local Delivery
Local delivery is an intermediary between online shipping and in-store shipping. If you have a brick-and-mortar store, your customers can place orders online while you deliver them via your store. You can either employ a local shipping carrier to deliver to your customer’s doorstep or have them pick it up from your store.
Local delivery is an excellent solution to reduce store backlogs, improve delivery time and help your local store. Moreover, it is a great option to increase your sales and establish yourself in the local community to attract more customers and retain old ones. Delivering directly will also bypass added shipping costs.
3.8) International Shipping
International shipping takes your business to new borders as your store expands. However, it deviates slightly from your expected shipping methods, given the extra documentation (customs, tax paperwork), regulations, and costs.
For an eCommerce brand just stepping into international shipping, there are many things to be considered:
- Choosing a marketplace: Marketplaces like Amazon and eBay introduce a large customer base and take care of currency conversion.
- Information about your product: It is important to know the demand for your products overseas, know about taxations and customs. In this case, your carrier's knowledge is critical.
- Choosing Your Carrier and Shipping Options: Choosing the right shipping partner or parcel consolidator becomes essential to managing shipping costs and shipment volumes. Shipping automation, too, is required for smooth delivery attempts, handling returns, etc.
3.9) Eco-Friendly Shipping
Climate justice campaigns have also transformed the shipping sector to introduce eco-friendly shipping. A survey found that more than two-thirds of customers have a positive impression of environment-conscious stores and shipping methods.
For eco-friendly shipping, you can start by using biodegradable packaging, offering carbon offset programs, recycling returns and opting for ground shipping.
4) eCommerce Shipping Methods and Shipping Rates
Shipping rates are an integral component of shipping methods. Mostly shipping rates are calculated based on the shipment's dimensional weight, the actual weight, size, source of origin and destination, and packaging.
As we know about the various eCommerce shipping methods available, let’s talk about the prevalent shipping rates that carriers offer:
4.1) Flat Rate Shipping
Here the shipping rate is calculated based on the size of the carrier’s box, eliminating the DIM weight and the size of the parcel. The shipping rate remains the same irrespective of the number of items you put in the box as long as the maximum weight is not surpassed. Different carriers affix different weight limits, such as FedEx One Rate's limit of 50 pounds for packages and 10 pounds for envelopes.
Apart from the weight, flat rates may vary depending on the distance of the delivery. Flat rates are a good option if your products are small and heavy, you wish to charge a fixed shipping rate, or save money on packaging. Though it may cost you lose out on personalised branding.
4.2) Table Rate Shipping
If you have a wide variety of products requiring different shipping options, then table rate shipping may be the best option here. You can accordingly blend different criteria to arrive at different shipping rates based on your delivery location, shipping zone, weight, item numbers, and price.
4.3) Real-time carrier rates
An easy way to charge the shipping rate without many calculations on your part is to extract the shipping rate from your carrier in real-time based on the product and delivery address. This is a reliable way to handle costs for your company while charging your customers what you would pay to your carrier. You also get the expected shipping time along with the shipping rate to inform your customers of the estimated delivery dates.
5) Should you offer Free Shipping?
If you wish to capitalise on the growing demand for online products and have an edge over your competitors, then yes! Offering free shipping has become a necessity nowadays. With correct strategies, the cost of giving free shipping can be managed.
- While you don’t display the shipping cost to your customers, it is implicitly included in the product price. Therefore, to fix the best price, having accurate information about carrier charges, the geographical distribution of your customers, and inventory in warehouses is absolutely critical.
- Having a minimum order threshold can counterbalance your shipping costs as it is easier to ship larger shipments than one parcel.
- Offering free shipping as promotions can generate more sales, especially during holiday seasons, and have new customers try your products.
6) The rising trend of in-store pickup
While the eCommerce shipping method does not typically include in-store pickups, however, it has blended with online eCommerce into the BOPIS model (Buy Online, Pick-up In-Store).
Especially integral to retail stores, the in-store pick-up has become a proven remedy to bring in more foot traffic, saving shipping costs and giving you the opportunity to use in-store inventory. Also, by dropping in your store, there is a 50% possibility that they will buy another item.
7) FAQs on eCommerce Shipping Methods
7.1) What is the best shipping method for eCommerce?
It truly depends on the eCommerce store’s metrics like product demand, shipping strategy, order fulfilment methods, and cost models but including a range of fast shipping methods like 2-day delivery, and expedited delivery is the best shipping method.
7.2) What is a standard shipping method?
It is another term used for regular shipping that usually takes more than three to ten business days to complete. It may extend more based on product availability and address code.